Plenaries & panels

RSD: Where transdisciplinary discourses meet and contribute to guiding principles for systemic design

Professor Dr Silvia Barbero

Associate Professor of Systemic Design and Visual Communication at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy)

The Systemic Design Association – as an international community of designers, scholars and practitioners – is leading the research and practice of design for complex systems. Our community and interdiscipline have grown a lot in the last ten years. Looking to the past, we can interpret the future and anticipate it.

The SDA community favours design-led systems research, advanced design methods, and emerging practices, evolving from the intersection of systems thinking and design. The dialogue is constantly nourished by sharing experiences, methods, and cases through the annual RSD symposia, where transdisciplinary discourses meet and contribute to guiding principles for systemic design theory and the future directions for the SDA.

Indeed, the SDA has fostered systemic design’s move toward pragmatic practice more than ever before. Such results have been achieved through the vital networking on the annual RSD symposia, where practitioners, researchers, and the general public have built a shared understanding of the systems approach.

The SDA has proved to be an essential platform that creates dialogue opportunities that contribute to guiding principles for systemic design practice, where transdisciplinary discourses meet and contribute to guiding principles for systemic design theory and future directions of SDA. More importantly, unifying the definition of what it means to practice system design as a discipline today.

The Covid-19 pandemic reinforced our commitment as a community of research and practice in keeping the systemic design at the centre of the debate as a vital discipline that can shift the course of our contemporary societies.

Over the past ten years, the SDA has built an international community of designers and scholars, leading emerging practices, design-led systems research, and advanced design methods evolving from systems thinking and design. Such exponential growth has proved the support of a wider community for the movement toward systemic design.


Dr Silvia Barbero has been Chair of the SDA since its foundation in 2018. She is an associate professor at Politecnico di Torino (Italy), where she teaches in the Systemic Design graduate programs and Design and Visual Communication undergraduate program. Silvia leads systemic design research in local economies, policy design, environmental production, innovation through collaboration with companies, research centres, national and international networks. In 2005, she co-founded the Observatory of Eco-Packaging. She leads the Systemic Design Lab in Politecnico di Torino. Silvia is the scientific coordinator of many European projects about sustainable development and circular economy. She is the author of numerous books, papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and reviewed international conference proceedings that you can find on her Politecnico di Torino profile.


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Posted October 2021

©­ Author, published by the Systemic Design Association

Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD#) Symposium.